College cash plan ‘exclusive’

Government plans for half of all further education colleges to specialise in areas such as design and technology have been criticised for failing to include other training providers.

Government plans for half of all further education colleges to specialise in areas such as design and technology by 2004 have been criticised for failing to include other training providers.

Education and employment secretary David Blunkett this week said £100m would be given over three years to allow FE colleges to become vocational centres of excellence in chosen fields.

But Dr Michael Sanderson, chief executive of the Engineering and Marine Training Authority, said the government had missed a trick in excluding other training bodies. ‘The basic idea is good, but we are bitterly disappointed that only FE colleges have been considered,’ he said.

Sanderson highlighted the work of Group Training Associations — not-for-profit centres set up by small manufacturers, clubbing together to train their staff. He said: ‘Some of these would make fantastic centres of excellence. We thought the new Learning and Skills Council would give us a level playing field, but it doesn’t seem this is the case.’